The Words to Say It by Marie Cardinal

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The Words to Say It by Marie Cardinal is an exceptional narrative of a young woman’s seven year journey through psychoanalysis; a journey through which she embarks on an unconquered path to a successful self-discovery. While on that journey, Cardinal regains control over her health and body, redefines womanhood and femininity, discovers injustices and inequality and gets out of madness. Cardinal’s sensual and artistic writing through colorful metaphors, imagery, poetic language and sensual descriptions characterizes the heroic triumph from madness.
Cardinal’s narration of psychoanalysis treatment is celebrated as one of the best accounts. In the introduction, Bruno Bettelheim praises The Words to Say It: “of all accounts of
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From this portrayal of psychoanalysis through her prolific writing, one can get a thorough understanding of the healing power of analysis through writing. The step by step process and articulate expression of the habit of deep thinking in search of the inner experiences is expressed clearly. The analysis was a journey of self-discovery and Cardinal’s transformation is evident from her zeal for life at the end of the gestation period. Discovering what one is feeling and thinking, through writing, helps negotiate and tolerate a new psychic space. It is one that is sometimes terrifying but sometimes exhilarating (DeSalvo, 182). This is true of Cardinal after the analysis; she regained a new self, free from the bondages that haunted her previous life. She was on a quest to secure her freedom and truth.
The Words to Say It would be classified as a quest narrative. Frank describes this as a narrative that tells self-consciously of being transformed; undergoing transformation is a significant dimension of the storyteller’s responsibility (118). Cardinal was not the same after the illness and was even better after going through treatment and finding her voice through writing. Moreover, the quest narrative affords the ill their most distinctive voice (Frank, 115). Her goals in treatment were very clear from the onset: to gain control over health and body and to discover self.
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